On 1st March 2018, Vladimir Putin devoted much of his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly to the presentation of a number of new 'invincible' weapons then under development. Soon after, these new systems were given names: 'Kinzhal' for a cruise missile launched from an aircraft flying at high altitude at a supersonic speed, 'Avangard' for a hypersonic boost-glide system, 'Sarmat' a heavy multi-warhead ICBM, 'Burevestnik' for a nuclear powered very long-range cruise missile, 'Poseidon' a nuclear powered autonomous under-water weapon able to carry nuclear munitions, and 'Peresvet' for a ground-based laser weapon system able to destroy or disable low flying drones, aircraft and, possibly, satellites. Nearly a year later, in 2019’s Address to the Federal Assembly, Putin gave some additional information about the development of these systems and also spoke of two new ones to be developed in response to the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The significance of Putin's 2018 presentation and details of these new systems were provided in an earlier publication and will not be repeated here. The purpose of this paper is instead to outline what is now known about the current stage of development of the new weapons and future prospects for their deployment. It also considers a number of other significant new weapons currently under development and some general patterns that are beginning to emerge that could influence whether a new arms race is in prospect and, if so, what form it might take.
For Julian Cooper, 'Russia's Invincible Weapons: Today, Tomorrow, Sometime, Never?', May 2018, Click Here.